Africanized Honey Bee

Actual Size: ¾”

Characteristics: Covered in fuzz; brownish in color with black stripes that aren’t as distinct as those on wasps or hornets.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Prefer to nest in large nesting sites such as hollow tree cavities or chimneys

Habits:

  • Readily nests in cavities and voids near ground level
  • Fly directly into entry holes, unlike European honey bees that rest at the threshold of their hive before walking in
  • Demonstrate agitation and increased flight activity when a person approaches within 50 feet of their nest

Africanized Honey Bees in Knoxville TN

The Africanized honey bee was made notorious from press releases as the “killer bee,” and is a result of matings between the African bee subspecies and European honey bees. These bees are not easily distinguished from domestic honey bees and have spread throughout the southern United States.

Africanized Honey Bee Nests

A common difference between Africanized and European honey bees is their choice of nest locations. Africanized honey bees are less selective when seeking out a potential nesting site. Colonies are smaller and have been found in water meter boxes, cement blocks, barbeque grills, cavities in the ground, and hanging exposed from tree limbs. European honey bees are rarely found in these locations as they prefer larger nesting sites like chimneys and tree hollows. Humans inadvertently provide multiple nesting sites for these bees, which is the primary reason Africanized honey bees are frequently encountered by humans.

Africanized Honey Bee Habits & Dangers

Africanized honey bees can be a public health concern because they are more likely to sting than “typical” honey bees. Although these are more unpredictable and defensive than domestic honey bees, they generally react only when their nests are threatened. Africanized honey bees are provoked to attack sources of loud noise and vibrations, as well as, large, dark-colored moving objects that occur within 50-150 feet from the colony. Africanized honey bees have been known to pursue their victims for more than 500 feet. Children, the elderly, and handicapped individuals are at the highest risk of an attack due to their inability or hampered ability to escape an attack.

Africanized honey bee venom is no more dangerous than that of domestic honey bees. However, these bees will attack in greater numbers, which poses more danger to humans. If under attack by Africanized honey bees, run quickly in a zig-zag pattern and seek shelter indoors or in a car. Experts do not recommend jumping into water to avoid these bees, as they will wait above the surface for their target to emerge.

For help with these bees, always contact your local bee control experts.